Entrepreneur Julian Riedelsheimer

“My parents first thought it’s a rather daft idea“

Like many IT specialists, Julian Riedelsheimer initially wanted to go into consulting. Then he discovered start-ups, worked at several and started his own in 2014. Now he made it onto the Forbes list „30 under 30“.

It began with the realization that the predominant working culture and conditions in most companies are not what Julian Riedelsheimer wants. “Offices are rarely feel-good-places”, he says. “On top of that, my generation is looking for a purpose in life and highly values autonomy – this isn’t possible in most companies either”, the 29-year-old thinks. This made him gradually move away from the idea to move into consulting after finishing his Information systems studies. Still a student, ‘Manage&More’ a scholarship programme of UnternehmerTUM, brought him closer to the topic of starting a business. “This was the spark that lit the flame. I realized that starting a business would give me the opportunity to have an impact, creating something new would allow me to change something and to influence culture.”

Individual design concepts

Having worked for various start-ups, it was finally time in 2014. Together with Frank Stegert, whom he met at TUM in the Manage&More Programme, Julian Riedelsheimer had the idea for his own business: “A common friend of ours had moved to Frankfurt. When Frank went to visit him after some time, his flat was still almost empty. The problem: he neither had the time nor the skill to furnish his home. Shortly after, the concept for 99chairs was ready: to be the supporting intermediary between customer and furniture supplier. Based on personal taste and budget 99chairs puts together an individual design concept to furnish the customer’s flat. If it is to his or her taste, the furniture will be ordered directly by 99chairs.

People want for a workplace where they enjoy being and where they feel comfortable.

Initially, the target group was mainly individuals. But since one and a half years 99chairs’ main focus is the furnishing of offices – ever since then the company is on the road to success. “We have been able to generate a lot of growth“ the CEO tells us. “This is because many companies have realized that happy employees are the more productive ones. Work environment plays a significant role here.” 99chairs plans to operate in Germany first and then break into the European market.

Major Challenges

The young entrepreneur admits openly that starting a business is not always smooth sailing. “You are doing something completely new and every situation you encounter has never been there before. There is little to guide you or that serves an an example.” Even though the experience he gained as an employee at other start-ups is valuable, the perspective of being an entrepreneur is a very different one. “For me it is very challenging to cope with the staff growth. By now we have 50 full-time employees and the number continuously increases”, Munich-born Julian Riedelsheimer tells us.

When tackling his tasks, the young man draws from his optimistic nature – and additionally works with a coach. “With him I reflect on myself a lot. Being the founder of a start-up, it is tremendously important to have a positive attitude, to be stable and to believe in the idea.” Someone who is constantly in doubt whether they are good enough, does not stand a chance. “Self-confidence and a portion of poise are the main ingredients when facing the pressure that inevitably comes up every now and then.”

The best decision

Julian, who is half French, receives tailwinds mainly from other founders. Friends and family on the other hand have sometimes been sceptical. “Some mates sometimes poked fun at my start-up and my parents thought it’s a stupid idea”, Julian Riedelsheimer laughs. “Despite that they have always trusted me and initially also lend money to me. Today they are very proud of me. Also my friends have lost their initial scepticism.” For the ambitious Berliner-by-choice it is very clear that “starting a business was one of the best decisions of my life”.